The Imperial Family (皇族)

The definition of an imperial family depends on the historical timeframe and the country concerned, but in general it refers to the emperor's male family members and their spouses. In this article, the imperial family of Japan will be discussed.

Pre-Modern Era

Of the Ritsuryo codes such as the Taiho Ritsuryo Code of 701, the Yoro Ritsuryo Code of 757 and so on, the imperial family is defined by the term Koshin (emperor's family).
They were commonly called 'Waushi' or 'Oushi.'

In the Ritsuryo codes there is a distinction made between imperial princes (shinno) and princes (o); although the distinction between genders is not mentioned, women are referred to as imperial princesses (naishinno) or princesses (jyoo). Formerly, the title of imperial prince or princess was given to the emperor's children and siblings. However, later on, the right to bear the title became restricted only to those who were actually conferred the title by the emperor. Imperial princes were given court ranks, and were provided with rice fields from the state in accordance with their rank.

According to the 'Ordinance of the Court Ranks,' there were four imperial ranks, each receiving a stipulated stipend from the state. Similarly, there were positions reserved for ranked imperial princes including minister (director) of one of the eight central ministries, vice-commander of Daizaifu or provincial governor of some major provinces, guaranteeing them senior positions. On the other hand, imperial princes without court ranks were called Muhon-Shinno (imperial prince without court rank). There were cases where court ranks were stripped as a form of punishment when imperial princes were found to be guilty of a crime.

According to the 'Ordinance of the Heir to the Imperial Throne,' the scope of Koshin is stipulated as up to and including the emperor's great-grandchildren (fourth generation); the fifth generation, or great-great-grandchildren, were called princes but not considered to be part of the imperial heritage. Subsequently, in the imperial rescript given in February 706, the Emperor's great-great-grandchildren (fifth generation) came to be recognized as a part of the Koshin, and the legitimate children of the great-great grandchildren were allowed to call themselves princes. Furthermore, unlike the modern imperial family system, with this system one could not obtain or lose the status of Koshin through marriage. Accordingly, even an empress was not recognized as part of the Koshin if she had come from a subject's household, as seen with Empress Komyo (Fujiwara clan), whereas one who married into a subject's household could still be conferred a court rank, as with Imperial Princess Teishi who was conferred the second court rank after she had married FUJIWARA no Norimichi (Chapter December 19, 1041, "Fuso Ryakki" [A Brief History of Japan]).

The ordinance stipulated that those who were not part of the Koshin were bestowed a family name and demoted to the rank of subject. The timing of the first shisei (bestowing a surname) is unclear, but the Tachibana clan is known as one of the initial clans of the Imperial family conferred with a family name. The descendants of Emperor Bidatsu, Prince Kazuraki (TACHIBANA no Moroe) and Sai no Okimi (TACHIBANA no Sai) requested to be demoted from nobility to regular subjects. Then they desired to be granted the family name of their mother, Agata no INUKAI no Michiyo, and received the kabane (hereditary title) of TACHIBANA no Sukune. Subsequently, after the early Heian Period, there were numerous demotions from nobility to subject status with the aim to reduce the state's expenditure by decreasing the number of Koshin, to remove the political infighting concerning the succession to the imperial throne, and to create high-ranking nobilities that would serve as a buffer for the imperial family.

When Crown Prince Atsuakira requested to withdraw from the crown princeship during the reign of Emperor Goichijo, the title of imperial prince was specially granted to the crown prince's son (grandson of Emperor Sanjo), lifting the strict measures regarding entitlement and allowing Koshin two generations and beyond to be able to receive the rights granted to imperial princes by becoming the adopted child of an emperor. The hereditary system which subsequently arose from this event is said to be the beginning of the hereditary houses of princes.

After the Edo Period, the hereditary houses of princes consisted of the Four Imperial Houses of Princes (Shitennoke). A prince from each of the Four Imperial Houses of Princes (also called Miyake) comprised of Fushimi no Miya, Arisugawa no Miya, Katsura no Miya (no relation to the current Katsura no Miya) and Kanin no Miya was adopted by the emperor and conferred the title of imperial prince in order to inherit the throne.

Under the Meiji Constitution

Under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan, pursuant to the extent defined by the Former Imperial House Act, the Imperial family was defined as the family of the emperor that shared his Imperial lineage. The emperor was not a member of the Imperial family. The combined whole of the emperor and the Imperial family was called the Imperial Household. The constituent members of the Imperial family were: the empress (Kogo), the grand empress dowager (Taikotaigo), the empress dowager (Kotaigo), the crown prince (Kotaishi), the crown princess (Kotashihi), the (eldest) son of the crown prince (Kotaison), the consort of the son of the crown prince (Kotaisonhi), imperial princes (Shinno), the consorts of imperial princes (Shinnohi), imperial princesses (Naishinno), princes (O),the consorts of princes (Ohi), princesses (Jyoo) (Article 30 of the Former Imperial House Act). Furthermore, the extent defined by the Ordinance of the Family of the Imperial Household recognized a relative within the third degree of relationship to hold the status as the Emperor's relative by marriage.

The term 'Kozoku' was adopted in place of 'Koshin' which was used under the Ritsuryo Code system. Previously, not even an empress was recognized as a part of the 'Koshin' if born into a subject's family; however, due to revisions made in the Meiji Constitution, an empress and other consorts were all treated as part of the Imperial family.

Unlike the existing constitution, the title imperial prince/princess was given to those down to the great-grandchildren of the emperor, and great-great-grandchildren and later generations were given the title prince or princess (Article 31 of the former Imperial House Act). Furthermore, illegitimate children were also considered part of the Imperial family.

The Imperial Family Council

By the decree of the former Imperial House Act, any male member of the Imperial family who reached the age of majority (18 for the crown prince or the son of the crown prince, 20 for other members of the Imperial family) became a councilor on the Imperial Family Council, a body consulted by the emperor on matters regarding the Imperial household.

The Privy Council

The Imperial order decreed on May 18th, 1888, gave imperial princes who had reached the age of majority the right to attend (and participate in) meetings of the Privy Council (Japan) as Minister-without-Portfolio.

The House of Peers

By the promulgation of the Imperial Ordinance Concerning the House of Peers, male members of the Imperial family who had reached the age of majority automatically became an Imperial councilor of the Privy Council (Japan). However, from the standpoint that members of the Imperial family should not be involved in politics and the fact that they were military officers, it was rare for them to actually attend the Council.

Bestowal of an Order

By the decree of the Ordinance of the Imperial Nobility (the Ordinance of the Imperial House, abolished), orders were bestowed in accordance with the following classifications:

The Empress: the First Order of the Precious Crown (Kunitto Hokansho), upon engagement with the Emperor.

The Crown Prince and the Son of the Crown Prince: the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, upon their seventh birthdays.

The Consort of the Crown Prince and the Consort of the Son of the Crown Prince: the First Order of the Precious Crown (Kunitto Hokansho), upon engagement with the Crown Prince or a son of the Crown Prince.

Imperial Princes: the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, upon their 15th birthdays.

Consorts of Imperial Princes: the First Order of the Precious Crown (Kunitto Hokansho), on the day of the wedding ceremonies.

Imperial Princesses: the First Order of the Precious Crown (Kunitto Hokansho), upon their 15th birthdays.

Princes: the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flower, upon their 15th birthdays.

Consorts of Princes: the Order of the Precious Crown Second Class, on the day of their wedding ceremonies.

Princesses: the Order of the Precious Crown Second Order, upon their 15th birthdays.

Positions by Appointment

By the decree of the Ordinance of the Imperial Nobility, members of the Imperial family were given positions by appointment in accordance to the following classifications:

The Crown Prince and the Son of the Crown Prince: military officer of the Army and Navy, upon their tenth birthdays

Imperial Princes and Princes: in principle, military officer of the Army or Navy upon their 18th birthdays.

Civil Suits

For civil suits arising between Imperial family members, an Imperial courthouse was established as required as a special tribunal with jurisdiction over the proceedings. On the other hand, for civil suits arising between members of the Imperial family and the general public, the first and second proceedings of civil suits filed against the Imperial family came under the jurisdiction of the court appointed by the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (Meiji Constitution), and all other proceedings were conducted as per general law.

Criminal Suits

Regarding criminal suits involving the Imperial family, matters that did not fall under the jurisdiction of court martial came under that of the Daishin-in (predecessor of the Supreme Court of Japan). Matters under the jurisdiction of court martial were tried at the general court martial.

Privileges and Obligations of the Imperial Family

Male members of the Imperial family were qualified to succeed the Imperial Throne, and excepting consorts of Imperial Princes and Princes, all members of the Imperial family that had reached the age of majority were qualified to assume the role of Sessho (regent).

The Empress, the Grand Empress Dowager, and the Empress Dowager were addressed by the title Her Majesty, and all other Imperial family members were addressed by the title of His or Her Imperial Highness (Articles 17 and 18 of the former Imperial House Act).

The Imperial family was supervised by the Emperor (Article 35 of the former Imperial House Act).

Only Imperial family members who had reached the age of majority were allowed to take on the role of guardian of another member of the Imperial family (Article 38 of the Former Imperial House Act).

Marriage for members in the Imperial family required an Imperial sanction, and they were only allowed to marry other members of the Imperial family or, with special Imperial sanction, members of the peerage (Articles 39 and 40 of the former Imperial House Act). Furthermore, due to the supplementation to the Imperial House Act on November 28th, 1918, female members of the Imperial family were allowed to marry into the O Imperial Family (the Imperial Household of the former Republic of Korea).

Adoption by the Imperial family was banned (Article 42 of the former Imperial House Act).

An Imperial sanction was necessary for any overseas trips taken by members of the Imperial family (Article 43 of the former Imperial House Act).

An Imperial sanction was necessary for the arrest of or summoning to court of a member of the Imperial family (Article 51 of the former Imperial House Act).

For actions that disgraced their court ranks or for a lack of loyalty towards the Imperial household, members of the Imperial family were given a reprimand by way of an Imperial statement, and for egregious cases, there were possibilities of the suspension or deprivation of their Imperial privileges, or even demotions to the status of a subject (Article 52 of the former Imperial House Act and Article 4 of the Supplement to the Imperial House Act, February 11, 1907).

A prince was able to become a member of the peerage by an Imperial statement or through petition (demotion to the status of a subject). Furthermore, through an Imperial sanction, they were able to inherit the estate of a member of the peerage or become the adopted son of a member for the purpose of succeeding a family. (Articles 1 and 2 of the Supplement to the Imperial House Act of February 11, 1907).

Imperial families with the status of Imperial House of Princes were assigned household workers such as a superintendent, a butler, a steward and attendants. Also, members of the Imperial family that were military officers were assigned a military attaché to the palace (officer below the rank of major).

Members of the Imperial family received mandatory general education between the ages of 6 and 20, and as a rule attended the Gakushuin Boys' and Girls' Schools(Ordinance of the Education of the Imperial Family).

Order of Ranks of the Imperial Family

By the decree of the Ordinance of the Imperial Nobility, Imperial family members were ranked in the following order:

The Empress

The Grand Empress Dowager

The Empress Dowager

The Crown Prince

The Consort of the Crown Prince

The Son of the Crown Prince

The Consort of the Son of the Crown Prince

Imperial Princes, Consorts of Imperial Princes, Imperial Princesses, Princes, Consorts of Princes and Princesses.

Further details of the order were as follows:

Imperial ranks of Imperial Princes and Princes followed the order of succession to the Imperial Throne.

The order was as listed below:
The eldest son of the Emperor

The first grandson of the Emperor

Other descendants of the emperor's eldest son

The Emperor's second son and his descendants

Other descendants of the Emperor

The Emperor's brothers and their descendants

The Emperor's uncle and his descendants

Other members of the Imperial family.

Among members of equal standing, legitimate sons and their male-line descendants had a stronger claim to succeed the Imperial Throne over those of illegitimate birth and their male-line descendants. Furthermore, even among the children of legitimate and of illegitimate birth, the first-born son and his male-line descendants took precedence over those sons born afterwards and their male-line descendants.
(Order of legibility and birth)

The Imperial ranks of Imperial Princesses and Princesses were pursuant to that of Imperial Princes and Princes.

Among Imperial Princes, Princes, Imperial Princesses and Princess of equal rank, male members were ranked higher than their female counterparts.
(Order of gender)

Consorts of Imperial Princes and Princes were ranked after their husbands. No exceptions were made for Imperial Princesses and Princess who became consorts to Imperial Princes and Princes.

The widow of the late Crown Prince was ranked after the Consort of the Crown Prince, and the widow of the late Son of the Crown Prince was ranked after the Consort of the Son of the Crown Prince.

Widows of Imperial Princes and Princes retained their ranks after the deaths of their husbands.

The Imperial ranks of Imperial Princes, Imperial Princesses, Princes and Princesses who had assumed the role of the regent (Sessho), followed that of the Consort of the Son of the Crown Prince. However, if there was a Consort of the late Son of the Crown Prince, then their Imperial ranks fell behind hers.

In the event that there was a change in the order of succession for the Crown Prince and the Son of the Crown Prince, their Imperial ranks fell behind that of the Consort of the Son of the new Crown Prince. However, if there was a Consort of the late Son of the Crown Prince, then their Imperial ranks fell behind hers, and if there were any Imperial Princes, Imperial Princesses, Princes or Princesses who had assumed the role of regent, then their ranks fell behind theirs.

In the event that there was a change in the order of succession for the Imperial Princes and Princes, their Imperial ranks remained the same.

Those who were originally Princes but had been conferred the title of Imperial Prince before the implementation of the former Imperial House Act (declared Imperial Princes) were ranked above Princes in order of conferrence.

Existing Constitution

Under the existing law, the Emperor's family that belongs to the Imperial lineage pursuant to the extent defined by the legal power bestowed in the Imperial House Act is deemed to be the Imperial family. The Emperor is not included in the Imperial family, and the combined whole of the Emperor and the Imperial family is called the Imperial household. The constituent members of the Imperial family are: the Empress, the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, Imperial Princes, Consorts of Imperial Princes, Imperial Princesses, Princes, and Consorts of Princes and Princesses (Article 5 of the Imperial House Act). Among them, the 'Emperor's family' including the Empress, the Empress Dowager, the Crown Prince, the Crown Princess and their dependent sons and daughters is called the Inner Court Imperial family, and those who are independent and belong to Houses of Imperial Princes are called the Miyake Imperial family.

According to the existing Imperial House Act, the Emperor's legitimate son as well as grandchildren from his legitimate male-line descendants are called Imperial Princes and Imperial Princesses; descendants beyond the Emperor's grandchildren (third generation) from his legitimate male-line descendants are called Princes and Princesses (Article 6 of the Imperial House Act). Illegitimately born children are not recognized to be a part of the Imperial family. There are no special provisions regarding the Emperor's maternal consanguinity or relatives by marriage (a provision existed in the aforementioned Ordinance of the Family of the Imperial Household, but was abolished in 1947), and the Civil Codes stipulate that among the Emperor's in-laws, those within the third degree of relationship from the Empress are considered the Emperor's relatives by marriage. Although the Emperor's relatives by marriage are not a part of the Imperial family, under the Civil Codes, they are considered to be the Emperor's relatives. Therefore, being the Emperor's relative does not necessarily indicate membership in the Imperial family. Although the 'Differences between the General Public and the Imperial Family' below do not apply to those relatives that are not part of the Imperial family, certain provisions such as those banning consanguineous marriages do apply.

The Acquisition of Imperial Status

The only way a person other than the legitimate son or daughter of either the Emperor, an Imperial Prince or a Prince can gain Imperial status is when a woman marries either the Emperor, an Imperial Prince or a Prince (Article 15 of the Imperial House Act).

The Renouncement of Imperial Status

Based on their own will, Imperial Princesses, Princes, and Princesses who are over the age of 15 can renounce their Imperial status through the approval of the Imperial Household Council (Clause 1, Article 11 of the Imperial House Act).

If there are compelling reasons, Imperial Princes, Imperial Princesses, Princes and Princesses – excluding the Crown Prince and the Son of the Crown Prince – can lose their Imperial status regardless of the their own will, based on the decision made by the Imperial Household Council (Clause 2, Article 11 of the Imperial Household Act).

The following members of the Imperial family lose their Imperial status upon an Imperial Prince or Prince renouncing his Imperial status: 1. Consort of Imperial Prince or Prince renouncing his Imperial status; 2. descendants of Imperial Prince or Prince renouncing his Imperial status; and 3. consorts of the descendants of Imperial Prince or Prince renouncing his Imperial status (excluding women who marry other members of the Imperial family and her children). However, regarding the descendants and consorts of descendants of Imperial Princes and Princes who are renouncing their Imperial status mentioned in above clauses 2 and 3, the Imperial Household Council can use their discretion to allow these members to retain their Imperial status (Article 13 of the Imperial House Act).

If they marry anyone other than the Emperor or a member of the Imperial family, female members of the Imperial family lose their Imperial status (Article 12 of the Imperial House Act).

When a woman not of Imperial background marries an Imperial Prince or Prince and is later widowed, she may, at her own will, renounce her Imperial status. Furthermore, in cases of compelling reasons, they will renounce their Imperial status regardless of their own will through the discretion of the Imperial Household Council (Clause 2, Article 14 of the Imperial House Act).

When a woman not of Imperial background marries an Imperial Prince or Prince and later is divorced, she loses her Imperial status (Clause 3, Article 14 of the Imperial House Act).

When a female descendant of an Imperial Prince or Prince who has renounced his Imperial status marries a member of the Imperial family and is later widowed, she may, at her own will, renounce her Imperial status. In cases of compelling reasons, they will renounce their Imperial status through the discretion of the Imperial Household Council regardless of their own will. In addition, they lose their Imperial status when they get divorced (Clause 4, Article 14 of the Imperial House Act).

Differences between the General Public and the Imperial Family

Male members of the Imperial family are qualified to succeed the Imperial Throne (Articles 1 and 2 of the Imperial House Act).

Members of the Imperial family, excluding consorts of Imperial Princes and Princes, who have reached the age of majority are qualified to assume the role of regent and to vicariously execute state affairs on an extraordinary basis (Article 17 of the Imperial House Act and Article 2 of the Act for Extraordinary Vicarious Execution of State Affairs).

Members of the Imperial family cannot adopt (Article 9 of the Imperial House Act).

Approval is necessary from the Imperial Household Council for a male member of the Imperial family to get married (Article 10 of the Imperial House Act). Approval is not necessary for a divorce. Moreover, approval from the Imperial Household Council is not necessary for female members of the Imperial family to get married.

The Crown Prince and the Son of the Crown Prince are considered to have reached the age of majority at the age of 18 (Article 22 of the Imperia House Act). Pursuant to the Civil Codes, all other members of the Imperial family are considered to have reached the age of majority at the age of 20.

Under the Imperial House Act, the Empress, the Grand Empress Dowager, and the Empress Dowager are addressed by the title Her Imperial Majesty, and all other members of the Imperial family are addressed by the title of His or Her Imperial Highness (Article 23 of the Imperial House Act).

However, not following this custom, the mass media often addresses them by adding the suffix 'sama' (an honorary title) in hiragana at the end of their names.
(They are rarely addressed with the kanji form of sama.)

Hogyo' (demise) is the term reserved for when the Empress, the Grand Empress Dowager or the Empress Dowager passes away, and 'The Expression of Death' is used for all other members of the Imperial family.

However, expressions such as 'Goseikyo' (passed away) and are frequently used by the mass media.

Members of the Imperial family who have reached the age of majority mutually stand for election for the Imperial Household Council as councilors or backup councilors, and can assume the role of councilor or backup councilor if they win (Article 28, 30, and 32 of the Imperial House Act).

They are not eligible to vote or to run for office.
(Administratively, since the Family Registration Law is not applied to them in accordance with Clause 2, Supplementary Provision of the Public Officers Election Act [Act No. 100, 1950], it is considered that their voting rights have been suspended for the time being.)

They do not possess a family names.

They are not registered on ordinary family registries, and matters concerning their status are registered on the Book of Imperial Lineage (Article 26 of the Imperial House Act). Furthermore, they are not recorded in the Basic Resident Register (Article 39 of the Basic Resident Registration Law, Article 33 of the Order for Enforcement of said Law).

They do not employ regular passports, but are issued diplomat passports under the official title of 'Imperial family.'
The field 'Permanent Address' on their drivers' licenses show 'Japan,' just as the country of origin is displayed in licenses of foreign residents in Japan.

The place of burial for the Empress, the Grand Empress Dowager and the Empress Dowager is called 'Misasagi' (mausoleum), and the burial place for all other members of the Imperial family is called 'Haka' (grave) (Article 27 of the Imperial House Act).

While expenses for the Imperial family are paid out from the national treasury to allocate for the daily living expenditure of the Inner Court as well for the purpose of allotting funds to maintain the court rank as a member of the Imperial family, the bestowal or the transference of estate is strictly governed by the Constitution and the Imperial Household Finance Act.

Besides the professional positions within the Inner Court belonging to the Board of Chamberlains of the Imperial Household Agency and the Board of the Crown Prince's Affairs of the Imperial Household Agency, for each house of an Imperial prince there are professionals such as the Officer of the Imperial Prince's Household Affairs and Head of Lady's Maid (Specialized National Public Servants).

Decoration of medals takes place (Japan), pursuant to the Ordinance of the Imperial Nobility implemented pre-war, to mark their coming of age or marriage: the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum for Imperial Princes; the First Order of the Precious Crown (currently, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown) to Consorts of Imperial Princes and Imperial Princesses; Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flower (currently, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers) to Princes; and the Order of the Second Class of the Precious Crown (currently, the Order of the Precious Crown, Peony) to Consorts of Princes and Princesses.

The Imperial Family of Today

The Imperial family of today is as described below:
The Imperial ranking order is pursuant to the provisions stipulated in the Ordinance of Imperial Nobility implemented pre-war. However, among siblings, the ranking order is dependent on the order of their births.

On the Book of Imperial Lineage, the reigning name and the title are not registered (official announcements are made through an official gazette in accordance with the notification formality stipulated by the Imperial Household Agency). Furthermore, the reigning name is something given by the Emperor to an Imperial Prince to be used only by that Imperial Prince; the consort of the Imperial Princes or his children and so on would not use the title for themselves (for example, Imperial Princess Mako and Imperial Prince Tomohito have not been given reigning titles).
However, on the chart above, reigning titles are given to consorts and children in parentheses for the sake of convenience

Members of the Imperial family are addressed in the Cabinet notification bulletins, the Imperial Household Agency notification bulletins or on the column for Imperial affairs in official gazettes (except for special cases such the first poetry-reading party of the New Year at the Imperial Palace) in the following way:
It should be noted that the reigning names or titles are not displayed.*The order is as it would appear in Japanese, the example is the English version.

The Empress, Grand Empress Dowager and the Empress Dowager are addressed in the following manner: their Imperial nobility followed by their title of honor, for example 'Her Imperial Majesty the Empress.'

The Crown Prince is addressed in the following manner: 'Crown Prince' followed by his name, his Imperial nobility and his title of honor, for example 'His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito.'

The Crown Princess is addressed in the following manner: 'Crown Prince' followed by husband's name, husband's Imperial nobility, 'Consort,' her name and title of honor, for example 'Her Imperial Highness Masako the Consort to Crown Prince Naruhito.'

Imperial Princes, Imperial Princesses, Princes and Princesses are addressed in the following manner: their names, their Imperial nobility and title of honor, for example 'His Imperial Highness Imperial Prince Fumihito' or 'Her Imperial Highness Imperial Princess Aiko.'

Consorts of Imperial Princes or Princes are addressed in the following manner: husband's name, husband's Imperial nobility, 'Consort,' her name and title of honor, for example "Her Imperial Highness Kiko Consort to Prince Fumihito.'

After a member of an Imperial family has passed away, the prefix of 'Late' is added and the title of honor is omitted, for example 'the Late Empress Dowager' or 'the Late Princess Kikuko.'

Even after their husbands have passed away, Consorts of Imperial Princes and Princes are addressed in the same manner without adding the prefix 'Late' to the husband's name, for example 'Her Imperial Highness Hisako Consort to Imperial Prince Norihito.'

Titles of honor are omitted in the name of a law or upon conferring a decoration, for example 'The Act Decreeing the Day of Crown Prince Naruhito's Wedding Ceremony a Holiday.'

Although the Imperial ranking order for members of the Imperial family is in most part pursuant to the Ordinance of Imperial Nobility implemented pre-war, among siblings, there are cases where the male members take precedence over the female members, and those where the order of birth is weighed more heavily regardless of gender. As an example of the former, at the first poetry reading party of the New Year at the Imperial Palace in 1966, the seating order of the daughter of Mikasanomiya Imperial Prince Takahito, Yasuko KONOE (born 1944), came after Imperial Prince Tomohito's (born 1946). As an example of the latter, at the first poetry reading party of the New Year at the Imperial Palace in 1977 and 1978, another daughter of Mikasanomiya Imperial Prince Takahito, Masako SEN (born 1951), was seated before Takamadonomiya Imperial Prince Norihito (born 1954) in accordance to the order of their birth.